Huron school board member wants suit dismissed

Tim Sowecke asks judge to toss suit filed by ousted superintendent Fred Fox
Sandusky Register Staff
Mar 5, 2013

The troubles at Huron Schools continue to inch forward, ever so slowly.

School board member Tim Sowecke has asked a judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit former superintendent Fred Fox file against him. Fox accused Sowecke of deliberately releasing an attorney's investigative report to the Ohio Ethics Commission, knowing full well such a move would make the report a public record (read here).

The attorney's report alleges Fox misused school resources and carried on inappropriate relationships. The school district could end up paying the attorney up to $90,000 for the investigation (read here).

For more on this story, pick up Tuesday's Register or subscribe to the ePaper here. Also, click on the PDF below to read Sowecke's latest filing in Erie County Common Pleas Court.

Comments

Huron_1969

Wow, this ruins the image Sold has painted of Sowecke driving to Columbus like a maniac with his hair on fire listening to AC/DC Highway to Hell while holding the report out the window flapping in the wind

There you go again

As a former Huronite living out-of-state, this Fox debacle is an embarassment. Fox clearly violated the strict, higher standards set forth for educators. Man up, Fred, and leave Huron alone.

Darwin's choice

Well of course he wants it dismissed! I have one question though, whether with his hair on fire or not, why did Sowecke take it upon himself to hand deliver the report to Columbus? Millions of "sensitive" documents are sent daily without the need for a day long trip! Was he paid for this trip? Sounds like he's pretty judgemental to me.

Huron_1969

My opinion is he didn't trust a few of his associates and took it upon himself to make sure it was delivered intact. Again, this is only my personal opinion

Darwin's choice

If he had the document in his hands, drop it off at fed-ex. No intrusions!

Huron_1969

Post "Toolgate" and "Where did that bus go", hand delivery makes sense.
If it's mailed, is there a protocol requiring handling by another administrator?

UgtaBkdnMe

Excellent point !

Tsu Dho Nimh

Why does it matter if he mailed it, Fed-exed it, or drove to Columbus? The bottom line is that it was turned over to the OEC and no rules were broken.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Sounds like everything that board members Caporini and Asher have been saying publicly is just not true. Let's see, there is documentation that the board voted 3-2 to turn over the Markling Report to the OEC, we can see legal documentation that information turned over to the OEC does not make it public record, the form the Mr. Sowecke and Mrs. Green signed was the allegation form given to them by the OEC, and Mr.Weis' email states that the law firm Brickler and Eckler told him that the report was public record. Cannot help but remember that Caporini and Asher claim that they wanted the allegations against Mr. Fox investigated by the board's legal counsel, Brickler and Eckler. This is the same law firm that apparently gave them "bad" advice. Sounds like the other three were correct when they voted to hire Markling. Huron 1969 describes well the picture that Fox, Caporini, and Asher tried to paint but it just isn't true. So I ask you, when Caporini and Asher claim that they only agreed to 10 free hours of legal counsel from Markling, why should anyone believe them? When this all settles, the "three stooges" will regain their good names.

Informed

Well said, TDN! Funny that all the hard evidence and proof have come from Sowecke, Green, and Slocum, whereas all the speculation and outright lies have come from Caporini, Asher, and Fox and friends. Why should we believe anything that comes out of their mouths?!

Huron_1969

Exactly
This entire series of events demonstrates how our society is willing to ignore the basics of right and wrong. Too many folks turn a blind eye to the root cause and focus on something other than the person(s) responsible for the problem. Accountability is becoming a thing of the past

There you go again

Yes, and the lack of accountability starts at the top (Mr.President) and runs all the way down.

UgtaBkdnMe

Wonder if Brickler and Eckler REALLY told the board or Mike Weis that the report was public record. The treasurer has made multiple mistakes when releasing other public records. I agree with Informed that Caporini and Asher outright lied on many ocassions and I haven't heard any other board members say that they were advised that the report would become public record if turned over.

P.S. Where is Sold on ME and Wiredmama? I would like to hear how SOWecke handled this all wrong...lol

Huron_1969

He's in training right now..... Bill Clinton school of "bob and weave"

Julie R.

Personally, I can't wait to see how this goes ..... especially with Binette as the judge.

HHGUY

SOWecke made a big mistake, big! During the May 22 executive session the Board did agree to take the report to the OEC. They also agreed that Dane Gaschen would take the lead and investigate how to move forward with the OEC. The Board was very sensitive to the fact that this action could potentially make this a Public Record. That is why they chose this direction (using Gaschen). Sowecke was present during this discussion and was very aware of the risk he was taking when he ventured off on his own and also aware this was not the direction that the Board agreed to.

In SOWecke’s affidavit, he states: “I assumed the physical task of transmitting the Markling Report to the Ohio Ethics Commission”. All should know what happens when you “assume” something. He assumed unauthorized authority.

Subsequent to approving Resolution 6335 to turn the information over to the OEC on May 22, the Board did not, by vote, delegate authority to Mr. Sowecke to take the lead role in delivering this report to the OEC. Please go to the Huron web site and read the resolution. Sowecke had no Board authority to take this action.

Huron Board Policy BBAA reads as follows:
BOARD MEMBER AUTHORITY

“Because all powers of the Board lie in its action as a group, individual members should exercise their authority over District affairs only as they vote to take action at a legal meeting of the Board. An individual Board member has power only when the Board, by vote, has delegated authority to him/her.”

Here are a few other policies he broke:

Board Policy BBF
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER ETHICS

“It is unethical for a board member to personally assume unauthorized authority.”

Board Policy BBF-E
BOARD MEMBER CODE OF ETHICS

“While serving as a member of my Board of Education, I accept the responsibility to improve the public education. To that end I will recognize that as an individual Board member I have no authority to speak or act for the Board”.

Accordingly, Mr. Sowecke acted on his own and did not have Board authorized power to deliver this document to the OEC. He violated Policy BBAA, BBF, BBF-E and the ORC.

Mr. Sowecke contacted the OEC, had Mr. Markling assist in filling out paper work and then hand delivered the documents to the OEC on June 6.

This was despite the warning that Mr. Gashen provided in an email written on June 4 regarding breaking attorney-client privilege. On June 6th -- on his way back from the OEC meeting in Columbus, Mr. Sowecke called President Slocum and advised him that the Markling report was delivered to the OEC. This was the first knowledge that Mr. Slocum had regarding this matter.

Furthermore -- it is absolutely true that the OEC always will keep all investigations and material used confidential. The issue here is that "delivering" the privileged document is the act that makes it a Public Record. Handing the document off to another outside the client circle is the issue. This is what opened the door. Dane Gaschen is a very good, experienced attorney from a well-established firm and would not make this elementary mistake.

Also there are emails in the system from Slocum that say that Gashen has the lead on this matter, not Sowecke. So there you have it, Sowecke again thought he was bigger than the system. I also can't believe that Sowecke's attorney's missed all of above.

Can’t wait till Monday!

UgtaBkdnMe

I would like to know why anyone thought or "assumed" that by turning over files to the OEC would make it public record. If Dane Gaschen was of that belief, he was wrong. The OEC treats everything confidential and any attorney should know that. Assuming that Mr. Gaschen gave the board that advice, then maybe they should look for a new law firm. Maybe Dane Gaschen couldn't be objective since he had a working relationship with Fred Fox. I can't wait for Monday either!

Tmm

I can't either Bob.

Huron_1969

Monday = suds and burgers night !
Lots of suds if we actually learn of official decisions

Huron_1969

HHG - that's a lot of executive session information - thank you for the transparency

Tsu Dho Nimh

Welcome back, Sold or should I say Fred?

HHGUY

Yes – everything I have said is the truth and will come out in the discovery phase of the trial. See protecting executive session information does not matter at this point. All gloves are off. Sowecke will lose, ACE hardware exists no longer. Personally, I can’t believe his attorneys were not sharp enough to catch all I have exposed. The Huron School Board Policy manual is available for all to read. Evidently, Mr. Sowecke does not know it exists or he thinks he is bigger than the system. We know the answer to that. Remember also that I have the email evidence to back up what I have stated. I only hope I get deposed for this trial. TDN where are you? My last statement until Monday. See you all then – or maybe at the Murray press conference. Good night!

Tsu Dho Nimh

In a previous blog on the last article you told us "I would love to tell you what is going to happen next, but I think it will play better with no warning." Just couldn't wait, could you? By the way, when will we be able to see the Fox and Murray Circus? I would love to attend.

Huron_1969

New name 'eh..... was that in your "bob & weave" class ?

Justme...

So NOW the gloves are off and its ok, HHG? How the heck did Gashan intend to follow the board's vote to forward the investigation to the OEC without forwarding the investigation to the OEC? To prove defamation they have to prove that the report was false, that Sowecki knew it was false and that he forwarded it, not because it needed to be reported, but because he intended to defame. Good luck with that.